Friday, December 16, 2016

A Feeble Argument and Untenable Stance – Part VII

Continuing from the last post on more of Jonathan Neville’s untenable argument about how Joseph Smith was nearly overpowered with the thoughts of wealth and treasure as he walked the two to three miles from his father’s home to the hill Cumorah to recover the plates of which Moroni told him, and how Oliver Cowdery in his Letter VII to W.W. Phelps uses considerable license to indicate what took place in that final battle.    Jonathan: “If Cumorah is in New York, then every geography that puts Cumorah somewhere else is, by definition, false and misleading. This includes so-called "abstract" geographies.”
    Response: And if it is not in New York, then Jonathan’s entire argument for a Great Lakes setting is without any basis what-so-ever and his entire theory crumbles without any support, let alone proof.
    Jonathan: “So far as I can tell, every LDS scholar accepts Mormon 6:6. Everyone agrees that Cumorah was Momron's depository [where he hid the records].”
    Response. Agreed. That does not mean it is the only place, the final place, or the place of eternity for those records. Only that it was where Mormon hid the records in 385 A.D. on the eve of a great battle he knew would be the end of the Nephite Nation. He hid them there at the time since that was where he was located and he did so to keep them from being found by the Lamanites. There is no proof of any kind that the hill Mormon mentioned is the hill in New York. That is merely an assumption.
    Jonathan: “Wherever that depository is, that's where Cumorah is.”
Response: That is an opinion, an assumption on Jonathan’s part. Fortunately the Lord is not bound by such opinions of men, nor such small areas of operation—he has the entire world and the entire universe in which to operate. What the Lord had done with the record then or later or in between Mormon and Joseph Smith we are not told and any opinion on our part is simply that—an opinion, an assumption or speculation without any kind of proof whatsoever. It is always interesting that man wants to limit the Lord’s field of operation as though he is nothing more than a mere mortal himself.
    Jonathan: “We have multiple accounts of Joseph and Oliver visiting this repository in the Hill Cumorah in New York. The most cited is Brigham Young's account given in a special conference in Farmington, Utah, in 1877. Separately from Brigham Young's account, the July 7, 1866, edition of The Latter-Day Saints' Millennial Star ran a front-page article by Orson Pratt titled "The Hill Cumorah: Or the Sacred Depository of Wisdom and Understanding."
    Response: No one is questioning the location of the Hill Cumorah where Joseph Smith found the plates, where they visited the cave in which the Nephite records were deposited, along with the sword of Laban, etc., as being the drumlin hill in New York, about three miles south of Palmyra and that Joseph obtained the records there from Moroni. The question at hand is simply this—is this the same hill as the  hill Cumorah mentioned in the scriptural record of the Book of Mormon?
    So let us ask the question: When Lehi saw his vision and Nephi asked for the same vision and it was granted to him, were both men actually in the area they saw? According to Nephi’s account, he was carried away by the spirit into areas where he saw many different things, from the birth of the savior to trees, fields, large and spacious building, the many waters upon which people sailed and fought, a great and abominable Church to the entire Land of Promise and the many wars, battles and destructions that took place there. In all that took place (Chapters 11-14) Nephi tells us he “was carried away in the spirit, and afterward returned to the tent of his father (1 Nephi 15:1).
During such visions, it is hard to understand exactly where one is, or where one is traveling, and time seems irrelevant (1 Nephi 8:8). The point is, that during the visits to Cumorah, the descriptions of those who saw an entered the cave sound much like being transported in a vision to another location. Whatever the case, the Lord is not bound by the physical properties of this Earth as are we. The distance from one point on the Earth to another is visited by the Lord in split seconds,  and what we see as great distances are, again, irrelevant to God.
Drumlin hills are the result of glacier action of churning up and grinding into pebbles the rock and earth as it moves, leaving a distinct characteristic, including an interior of pebbly rock where no cave could exist
The physical properties of the New York drumlin hill Cumorah suggest that there could be no cave there, yet we have testimony of a cave, or room, in which people entered from outside the hill. Vision? Who knows. But we are amiss if we try to translate the workings of God by the limits of our own thinking and abilities.
    Jonathan: “In my opinion, there are no legitimate reasons for rejecting Letter VII and the many corroborating evidences for the New York Cumorah. So why is this handful of LDS scholars so adamant about doing so?”
    Response: Probably for several reasons, no doubt some personal, some prideful, some based on career situations. But the fact that the hill Cumorah does not match the scriptural references is sufficient to discount it as the hill in the Book of Mormon scriptural record.
It is, however, the hill Joseph Smith extracted the plates from and that is important enough for it to hold a pre-eminent position in our thinking—not just where the Nephi Hill Cumorah and Jaredite Hill Ramah were located.
    Jonathan: “The only answer I've come up with so far is tradition and training.”
    Response: Try expanding your thinking. Read the scriptural record. Compare what it describes for the Land of Promise with what is found in the Great Lakes areas. Find some mountains, recognize your map is far from the same as Mormon describes, etc.
    Jonathan: “This handful of LDS scholars have all learned from the same people, who in turn learned from the people who learned from the originators of the two-Cumorah theory and the limited geography Mesoamerican theory.”
    Response: This is probably true, but does not add to your claim that there are not two Cumorahs.  
    Jonathan: “I know how alluring the two-Cumorah and related ideas are. I was taught them myself, and I believed them for many years. But they are fundamentally inconsistent with what Joseph and Oliver taught, and how can anyone living today know more about the topic than Joseph and Oliver? Not to mention, what Joseph and Oliver taught makes more sense than the modern theories anyway.”
    Response: Funny, Joseph never taught where the Book of Mormon took place. If he taught that the Hill Cumorah in New York was the same as the Hill Cumorah in the scriptural record, it would have been accepted officially by the Church years ago. Stop claiming something that runs against the workings of the Church and the descriptions of the Land of Promise given us by Mormon and others.
    Jonathan: “In my view, we can rely on Joseph and Oliver.”
    Response: “In my view, we can rely on Joseph Smith and the scriptural record he translated with the help of the Spirit. Oliver was only the scribe and not the spokesman nor the torch bearer of the gospel and certainly not one who was always right in his opinions.”
    It is time to set aside Letter VII in relation to the hill Cumorah and Oliver Cowdery’s poetic speculation and rely on the scriptural record written by the man who was there, who camped at, fought at, and died at Cumorah.

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